Category Archives: Miscellaneous

2016 report card and plans for 2017

I’ve been thinking about the year that has just finished and how I would rate it if I was writing my school report card.  Would I give myself an ‘A’, an ‘E’ or something in between?

NZ 500km race-walking record holder - Richard McChesney
Me after breaking the NZ 500km record at Privas in October

On the positive side, my 2016 highlights included:

  • My circumnavigation of the M25 motorway in March.
    To my knowledge I am only the third person to circumnavigate the M25 on foot, and I’m the fastest.
  • The Continental Centurions Race in May.
    I broke the New Zealand 100 mile record and also bettered the official NZ 24 hour record – both of which have been goals since I first started race-walking in 2012.
  • My second Grand Union Canal Race, also in May.
    36 ½ hours on my feet without sitting down once. Great mental training, and 6 ½ hours faster than last year.
  • Walking the District Tube Line in July.
    My birthday treat. A fun walk on a beautiful summer’s day.
  • Walking the Monopoly Board in July.
    Another fun walk a few days after my District Line walk.
  • The UK Centurions Race in August.
    More than just a race, I used this weekend as training towards my upcoming 6 day race and walked 125km from Leeds to Redcar the day beforehand.
  • The 6 Jours de France in October.
    My main focus for the year, I walked 614km in six days, narrowly missing out on the NZ and Commonwealth record, but successfully breaking the NZ 500km record along the way.
  • And many other training walks during the year.
    I love training. In fact I would say that I am addicted to it.
    I covered over 2,500 miles in training for the first time ever – 4,100 km/ 2,548 miles to be exact.  In total I did 201 walks on 146 days, taking 624 hours.  And I loved almost every minute of it.
  • Improved diet, sleep and general health
    With my focus on the 6 day race in October I also took steps to improve my general health which I wrote about in each of my monthly training reviews from January up until the race in October.
  • Friends
    And as would be expected in the friendly race-walking and ultra-running communities, I enjoyed the friendship of many new and old friends from all around the world.

So based on all of that, you might think I would give myself a report card rating of an ‘A’ or even an ‘A+’.

But to be honest, I don’t think I did as well as I could/should have.  In fact, when I look back at my big walks from 2016, I keep seeing one common failing:

  • My circumnavigation of the M25 motorway
    I lacked the mental toughness to complete my goal of walking the 265 km / 165 mile route non-stop. At the time I blamed the weather (it was extremely cold at night), but when things began to get hard, rather than pushing through, I gave up.
    I went back and finished the job after a 36 hour rest, but I’m not happy with my lack of mental strength, my lack of will-power.
    I will give myself a ‘C+’ for this walk.  A pass mark, but could do better.
  • The Continental Centurions Race
    I might be a bit hard on myself here, but I think I could have done better. There were a few hours in the middle where I lost time, and after I finished the 100 miles (my first of two goals) I slowed over the last three hours when I should have pushed on at the same pace I had been walking earlier.
    I’ll give myself a ‘B’ for this race, but again, mental strength was below expectation.
  • Th Grand Union Canal Race
    Again, maybe I’m being too hard on myself, but after walking the first 100 miles in a little under 24 hours, I struggled mentally on the second day. I think I can cover the last 45 miles at least an hour faster by staying focussed, so I will give myself a ‘B’ for this race too.
  • The UK Centurions Race
    This race was to be a training event in the lead-up to the 6 day race and I expected to walk at least 85 miles (135km) in 24 hours during the race, after walking from Leeds to Redcar the day beforehand. And I thought I might even be able to manage to complete the whole 100 miles within 24 hours if I had a good day.
    But I struggled both mentally and with tiredness and only managed 100km before stopping after 22 hours.
    I don’t think this walk was good enough for a pass mark, so give myself a ‘C-‘ as a ‘D’ is possibly a bit harsh given that I had to walk 10 miles further than planned on the Friday.
  • The 6 Jours de France
    Before the race I said that my absolute minimum distance to get a pass mark was 622km (386 miles) which would have beaten the NZ and Commonwealth records, and before the race I thought I could walk 700km in six days.
    So based on that, I failed. The reason I ‘failed’ was because I lacked the mental strength I needed to achieve the goals I had set myself.  I fell apart, especially on the last day.  But I finished, and finished strongly with an incredible last three laps.  The bad weather during the first three days of the race didn’t help me either.  I also broke the NZ 500km record, so am happy to give myself a ‘C’ for this race.

And therefore overall, I think that my 2016 year rates as a ‘C’ or ‘C+’ on the report card.  General comment: “Performed well but lacked the mental strength when needed. Expect better next year.”

The rewards of my year.  From left to right: two cups and badge from Continental Centurions Race, Medal from GUCR, medal and cup from 6 day race
The rewards of my year. From left to right: two cups and badge from Continental Centurions Race, Medal from GUCR, medal and cup from 6 day race

2017:

I have to work on the mental strength.  I think a part of that will come from seeing a sports phycologist which is something I have been thinking about for a while, but I think the other issue is that I don’t train hard enough.  I do the occasional interval session but most of my training is at a steady pace, and whilst that is good for building endurance, I never finish a training session thinking that I couldn’t walk another step.  In 2017, it is time for me to step it up a level.

Goals for 2017:

I feel that I have unfinished business after 2016, and 2017 is going to be all about finishing what I started in 2016:

  • NZ 24 hour record
    At this stage I am thinking of racing the Bourges 24 hour race in early March. The goal is to walk 24 hours without any lapse in concentration.  If I do that, then something around 190km is a strong possibility.  I need to at least beat the official NZ record of 182.65km.  I walked 182.95km at Schiedam in May.
  • M25 circumnavigation
    I’m not yet 100% certain when I am going to do this, but I think mid-April will be ideal. The goal is to walk the 165 miles non-stop, without even sitting down once, and in under 48 hours.  That was my 2016 goal, and in 2017 I will do it!
    I’m also going to use this as my annual charity fundraising walk.
  • 700km in 6 days
    The 6 Jours de France has been moved forward to the end of August in the hope of better weather. I learnt so much in the 2016 race, and still believe that I am capable of walking 700km in six days with the help of a great support crew (which I had in 2016), better weather, improved mental strength, and an improved training schedule.

If I can achieve all of those I will be happy.  I’ve got a few other races planned for 2017, but the above three events are my main goals.

Thank you for your support this year:

I have received plenty of support from people this year as I have chased my goals.  Whether it is the comments on facebook, the comments on some of my blog posts, or the occasional email I’ve received, thanks to everyone who has helped me this year.

I especially want to think my family, the support crew I have had at various events this year, Shaun Lightman who has been giving me advice on walking technique, and both Fitbit and Strictly Banners.  Without you, I would not have achieved anywhere near as much as I did in 2016.

 

Richard

M25 circumnavigation for Sport Relief – supported by Fitbit

sprt_relief_logo fitbit_logo
Track my M25 walk live
Click this map to track my live progress on Friday 11th to Sunday 13th March

I’m raising money for Sport Relief and every pound helps.  Please visit my Sport Relief donation page to donate.  Just £1 is all you need to donate.  It will make a difference!

And if you make a donation you can also enter my competition to guess how many steps my walk will take, and the closest guess wins a brand new Fitbit Surge!  See details below.

About the Walk:

Starting on the afternoon of Friday 11th March I will be walking approximately 165 miles non-stop to circumnavigate the parameter of the M25 motorway in an effort to raise £5,000 for Sport Relief* and become the first person to complete a lap of the M25 non-stop on foot.

fitbit_surge
Fitbit Surge

 

And thanks to Fitbit UK, I am able to offer you the opportunity to win a Fitbit Surge (valued at £199) by guessing how many steps my walk will take me.

 

 

My M25 circumnavigation planned route
Planned route (click to view larger image)

My plan is to start the walk on the western side of the Dartford Bridge and to follow the A and B roads on a clockwise route that will take me through Reigate and Leatherhead and then up past Windsor, around the top of the M25 past St Albans and Potters Bar, and then back down past Brentwood to finish back at the eastern side of the Dartford Bridge (there is no pedestrian access to the bridge itself) on the Sunday morning or afternoon.  I’m intending to complete the whole walk without stopping for anything other the occasional toilet break – and to walk the Black Park parkrun in Windsor at 9am on Saturday morning (adding an additional 5 kilometres to my journey).

Make a donation, guess how many steps I will take, and WIN!

My goal is to raise £5,000 for Sport Relief, so please donate to this worthwhile cause (link to my donation page is below), and complete the details below to win a Fitbit Surge:

THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)
I will not send you any spam email or disclose your email address to any other third party

How many steps do you think I will take during my M25 circumnavigation? (required)

In the event of a tie, the person who has the closest guess to my total time will be the winner. How long do you think the approximately 165 mile walk will take me? (required)
Hours: Minutes Seconds:

Please click here to open the Sport Relief donation page (it will open in a new window), enter your donation details and then enter the 'donation transaction ID' (which is displayed when you complete your donation) here (required)

Additional Message

Tick this box if you would like to receive an email about any future fundraising walks I do
Yes please

THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED

The Small Print:

  • Only one entry per donation
  • Entries will close at the moment I finish the walk.  Donations after this time are welcome though.
  • Step count starts from when my walk starts and finishes when my walk finishes.  Any steps recorded on my Fitbit before or after these times will not be counted.
  • The person who has the closet guess to the total number of steps will win the competition.
  • In the event of two or more people having the same closest guess, they will be put in to a separate drawer and the person who has the closest guess to my actual time will be declared the winner.
  • Whilst the M25 is officially only 117 miles in length, the total distance I expect to walk following the A and B roads is estimated at 165 miles (give or take 5 to 10 miles) but actual distance may differ depending on the actual route taken, any diversions due to road closures, etc, and includes and additional 5km for the Black Park parkrun on the Saturday.

 

 

Thanks for your support,

If you want to follow my progress in the lead up to my M25 walk, or read updates about my progress during the walk, ‘like’ me on facebook or follow me on twitter.

 

Thanks

 

Richard

 

P.S.
Fitbit recently published this article about my planned walk on their blog: http://fitbiteurope.tumblr.com/post/138421390990/richards-fitbit-powered-motorway-walk-for-sport

And the Richmond and Twickenham Times published this article:

Richmond & Twickenham Times 19/2/16
Richmond & Twickenham Times 19/2/16

A similar article was also in the Surrey Comet:

Surrey Comet article 19-2-16
Surrey Comet article

2016 – The year of healthy eating and even longer walking

In 297 days time I will start my biggest race to date – the 6 jours de france (Privas 6 day race).  Six days of walking around a 1,025 meter circuit in Privas, France.

I competed in the 3 day event this year and haven’t been able to stop thinking about the race since.  I hated it and I loved it.  Reading my 2015 race report you wouldn’t think that I would want to go back for more (it wasn’t my best result of the year), but there hasn’t been a day go by since, and there won’t be a day go by during the next 42 weeks, in which the race hasn’t been in my thoughts.

Privas is my ‘A’ goal for 2016 and everything I do over the next 9 ½ months will be preparation for this event.

Sacrifices:

When I wrote my book, WALK – Going The Distance, recently one of the people who proof read it suggested that I had a chapter about the sacrifices I had made in order to do what I had done during 2015, but to be honest I don’t consider anything I have done up until now to be a sacrifice – other than sleep and time away from the family maybe.

But to compete at the level that I want to in October I will have to make many sacrifices.  When doing long training walks I try to get up very early in the morning (3am’ish) so that I can complete a 6 to 8 hour walk and be back home well before lunchtime on a Saturday and/or Sunday so as to reduce the amount of time I spend away from my family, but my sleep suffers all the time.  Early morning starts or late nights due to the need to squeeze in a 2 or 3 hour walk before or after a day at work.  Either way, it isn’t very often that I get 8 hours sleep in a night.  I have had a fitbit for the last 5 ½ months.  As well as measuring activity, fitbit also records my sleep, and it shows that since July I have averaged just 6 hours and 40 minutes of sleep per night.

no cokeAt the beginning of September this year I also decided that I needed to reduce my sugar intake, or to be more specific, reduce my Coke intake.  I have been addicted to drinking Coca Cola for over 20 years and it had got to the stage where I was drinking as much as 2 litres per day.  So I went cold turkey and stopped drinking Coke except for in races (I’ve only done one race since – the Roubaix 28 hour race during which I lived on Coke for the whole race) and the some special occasions (such as Christmas).  I used to justify my excessive consumption of Coke by telling people that I needed the calories and the caffeine that I got from Coke, but as soon as I gave up I found that I was actually less tired than when I was using the caffeine from the Coke to keep me awake!

But the biggest sacrifices are yet to come:

I eat way too much bad food.  I love junk food, biscuits, chocolate, crisps, heat and eat meals, croissants (my usual lunch), the list goes on…

But if I want to achieve my 2016 goals I think it is time to start eating a decent diet.  I’m going to reduce the amount of processed food I consume starting immediately.  No more cornflakes for breakfast.  No more croissants for lunch.  My evening meals are usually good quality except for when my wife, Ruth, is away and I have a ‘heat and eat’ or something else that doesn’t have much more nutritional value than the packaging it comes in.

I’m also going to replace my snacks with fruit. No more chocolate bars or biscuits when sitting at my desk or bags of crisps on the tube coming home after a day at a client’s office.

My diet for 2016 will consist of fruit and unprocessed foods for breakfast and lunch, and fruit for snacks during the day.  I think this is going to be the hardest thing I have ever done.  Much harder than any race I have competed in.  I have put a picture on the desktop of both my home and work computers along with some words to remind me about the end goal.  Something that I will see several times a day to remind me that the sacrifice will be worth it in the end.

Stretching:

On the foam roller
Me on the foam roller

It’s not that I don’t like stretching.  It is just that I don’t have enough time in my day to fit in a stretching session as well as everything else.  But starting today I am going to do a minimum of three 30 minute stretching sessions every week.  That’s over 120 stretching sessions between now and Privas.  I’ve added stretching in to my training diary to help ensure that I don’t forget, and by having a reminder on my computers desktop I hope to see that whenever I decide to spend 30 minutes on facebook, and go and do some stretching instead!.

My 6 day race goal:

The six day race in Privas is my ‘A’ goal for 2016 and everything I do between now and then will be focussed on preparing for that race.

My goal for the race?  I want to win!

But winning can’t be the only goal because I don’t have any control over the other competitors.  I can only control myself so at this point in time my goal is ‘to stand on the start line 4pm on Sunday 23rd October in the best physical and mental condition of my life’.

If I can do that then I feel that 400 miles (640km) should easily be achievable.   The current NZ record is 387 miles (622km).  To be honest, my goal is to walk substantially further than that, but let’s see how the training goes before defining a more specific goal.

Other races:

The M25 - a lap of greater London
The M25 – a lap of greater London

Whilst Privas is my ‘A’ goal I also plan on competing in four other races of 100 miles or longer during 2016, and would also like to do a 165 mile walk around the outside of the M25 as a charity fundraising walk for Sports Relief in mid March.  The M25 is actually only 117 miles in total but in order to stay on the outside of the M25 (on the A and B roads) it looks like I will need to cover about 165 miles in total.  This will be my second longest distance walked in one go, and I think I can do it in around 48 hours.  I will provide more details on this later in January.

My rough plan for 2016 at this stage is as follows:

  • 27-28 February 2016 – Bourges 24 hour race in France
    This will be a training race only. 24 hours on my feet but no set distance target
  • Mid March 2016 –circumnavigation of the M25 via the A and B roads outside of the M25 parameter – approximately 165 miles.
  • 14-15 May 2016 – Dutch Centurions Race
    100 miles in under 24 hours to become a Continental centurion.
  • 28-29 May 2016 – Grand Union Canal Race (again)
    This took me 43 hours in 2015. The goal this year will be to go under 40 hours.
  • 6-7 August 2016 – UK Centurions 100 mile race
    My target for this event will be to go under 21 hours which will beat the current NZ record.  My best time for 100 miles is currently 21:45.
  • 23-29 October 2016 – 6 jours de france (Privas 6 day race)
    The big one!

 

So there it is.  My plans for 2016 on paper (so to speak).

 

I hope you all have a happy new year.

 

 

Richard